Why do humans need toenails?


I understand fingernails for the most part. But why do we have toenails? Do they serve a purpose?

In: 3

Sometimes an organism can retain a feature from it’s ancestors not because it’s still useful, but because there is no reason why getting rid of it is *better*.

For example, humans still have tiny little nubs of bones in our butts where a tail once attached and deep inside all that blubber whales have tiny little feet bones hidden away from when they once had legs. Features like this are called “vestigial” features.

I’ve heard it argued both ways, that toenailss are and are not vestigial, meaning now-useless.

In the *yes* camp, you have biologists arguing that toenails stem from our ancestors’ need to scamper up trees quickly. We don’t climb trees with our claws anymore but since having toe nails doesn’t significantly effect our ability to reproduce, we still have them.

In the *no* camp, you have biologists arguing that our toes are full of blood vessels and nerve endings that need to be protected. Without protection our toes could be exposed to injuries that prevent reproduction (like, you can’t run fast enough to escape the bear, or you get an infection that kills you).

We are, generation by generation, slowly losing our pinky toe because we walk less. Not an answer but I think the reason is because when they’re there we need them. They protect our toes.

The real question is: if you cut off someone’s toenails at birth (not suggesting this!!!) would the skin underneath be as rugged as the skin that is next to that which is usually coveted by the nail. And why aren’t babies born with their nails needing to be cut?